NOAA 99-Dong
Contact: Mike Fergus, Mike Gonzales, Paul Ortiz


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has charged the captain and owner of the foreign longliner fishing vessel DONG YU 3015 with three counts of violating the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, announced Senior Enforcement Attorney Paul Ortiz of NOAA's Office of General Counsel, who is prosecuting the case.

Ortiz assessed a civil penalty of $105,000 against Guo Hua Yu, the captain, and Zhoushan Industrial Co., Ltd., the owner of the longliner, in a Notice of Violation and Assessment for the violations which occurred between Feb. 23, 1999, and March 4, 1999, within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ — federal waters extending out to 200 miles from shore) around American Samoa.In addition, approximately $205,000 from the sale of the vessel's catch was seized pending the outcome of the case.The charges include the illegal transhipment of tuna from another foreign vessel within the U.S. EEZ, the failure to properly stow gear while transiting the U.S. EEZ, and allowing the crew to fish for personal consumption within the U.S. EEZ.The activities of foreign fishing vessels operating in federal waters are strictly regulated, including where they may tranship and how their gear is to be stowed.

Uaea Ualesi, an alia fisherman from American Samoa, originally sighted the crew fishing at South Bank, approximately 25 miles from American Samoa on March 3, 1999. Ualesi returned to Pago Pago and informed Special Agent Martina Sagapolu-Failauga of the National Marine Fisheries Service and Officer Edwin Seui of the Department of Marine
and Wildlife Resources.An investigation showed that the vessel's longline gear had not been properly stowed while the vessel was in the U.S. EEZ, and a study of the vessel logs documented the illegal transhipment activities.Ortiz made the assessment after an investigation report was completed by Special Agent Sagapolu-Failauga.

"We are especially grateful for the assistance of Mr. Ualesi, who provided us with the necessary information we needed to start the investigation," said Mike Gonzales, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Fisheries Service's Southwest Enforcement Division."Enforcement of these regulations is critical to our goal of mission of controlling the activities of foreign fishing vessels operating in U.S. federal waters throughout the Pacific Ocean.This case will certainly have an important impact on foreign fishing concerns that use Pago Pago or operate in any U.S. waters."

"Perhaps the most important part of this case is that it is the first case where the penalty money will go to the government of American Samoa for use in fisheries enforcement and for implementation of their marine conservation plan," said Ortiz."It's an exciting advancement in the cooperative efforts between the federal government and the government of American Samoa."

The owner and operator have 30 days from the day that they are served with the Notice of Violation and Assessment to either pay the penalty, seek to have them modified, or request a hearing before an administrative law judge to deny or contest all or any part of the violation charged and the civil penalty assessed.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.The Fisheries Service conducts scientific research and provides services and products to support fisheries management, fisheries development, trade and industry assistance, enforcement, and protected species and habitat conservation programs.